The contrast could not have been greater. I spent the last week in the Los Angeles area…falling asleep every night to the incessant sound of traffic rumbling by on I-10…right outside my sealed-shut window. Sunday morning…I awoke to the sound of a yellow-billed cuckoo…with its soft rattle, followed by a frog-like thwump-thwump-thwump…a soft cool breeze wafting through the open window. ¬†Welcome home.

On my flight back home on Saturday, I sat next to a 15-year-old boy who was traveling alone. He was sitting by the window. For the entire duration of the 4-hour flight, he kept the window shade down. Instead…he focused on either his cell phone…or his laptop computer…or both…completely engrossed in video games. Perhaps…an escape from the real world, where he was forced to commute cross-continent by himself?

Towards the end of the flight, he put away his computer and phone…pulled up his hoodie over his head…and fell asleep. When we landed, he awoke and asked if we were in Charlotte. I replied, “Yes…Charlotte. Are you going on to Raleigh?” ¬†I wanted to make sure he didn’t miss his destination. He sleepily replied, “Yes.” He turned his head towards the closed window…back to sleep. Hopefully, there was someone waiting for him in Raleigh…glad to see him.

I took my time on Sunday…catching up…slowing down once more. Silence…and solitude…was broken when an American Goldfinch came tapping on the window…not once…but twice… seemingly, peering in and welcoming me back. A strange and unexpected greeting. Remarkable…nonetheless.





I boarded the Airbus 320 early this morning in Charlotte, bound for the West coast. As soon as I crossed the threshhold of the plane, stepping up from the boarding ramp, there was a loud klunk…and the plane went silent…all power apparently shut off. Immediately, through the open cockpit door, an apologetic voice exclaimed…“Sorry.” Then, with an audible click of a switch…the power came back on. The rest of the flight was uneventful…thankfully, with no other apologies necessary while we were airborne.

I’m always amazed that I can cross an entire continent on nothing more than a granola bar, a glass of water, and a cup of coffee…a feat the early pioneers couldn’t even imagine doing. But…after finally checking into my hotel in southern California, I was famished. I wandered next door to El Burrito, a walk-up Mexican restaurant. I ordered one of their specialty burritos, delectably named the Garbage Burrito. After about five minutes of waiting, a tiny screen door slides open. “Number 53!”…that’s me. Out slides a cardboard tray containing a burrito that appears to be larger than the bicep of my right arm. My body is saying “Yes,” but my mind is screaming “No!” I furtively grab the tray, along with my diet coke, and hurry back to my room to enjoy this guilty pleasure in privacy. The long, cross continental journey was worth the hardships…although I’ll probably pay for this later.